The Imagination of Ada Lovelace: An Experimental Humanities Approach

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

In this public talk, scheduled for International Ada Lovelace Day, Professor David De Roure of the University of Oxford will discuss and illustrate the ways in which, over the 200 years since Ada Lovelace's birth, she has been celebrated, neglected, and taken up as a symbol for any number of causes and ideas.

De Roure will describe and demonstrate a series of experiments and demonstrations inspired by the work of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. These include simulations of the Analytical Engine, use of a web-based music application, construction of hardware, reproduction of earlier mathematical results using contemporary computational methods, and a musical performance based on crowdsourced algorithmic fragments. These digital experiments bring insight and engagement with historical scenarios. The designed digital artefacts can be viewed as design fictions, or as critical works explicating our interpretation of Lovelace’s words, a means of close-reading. We frame this as Experimental Humanities.